Books Boys Like

This reading list was born out of our search for books boys like, but chances are your girls will love these too. The list starts with picture books and ends with high-school level books, although the order isn’t precise.

Reading list of books boys like.What have we missed? If you don’t see something you think should be on the “books boys like” list, please let use know in the comments below.

Also, don’t miss the Historical Fiction for Young Readers list. When there is a particular edition we prefer, we have linked to Amazon (and of course, those are affiliate links—full disclosure in the footer of every page on the site).

To go along with this list of books for boys, you might enjoy the list of Music for Boys (mostly classical, of course) at Professor Carol’s excellent website.

[List format: title, author, original publication date]

O = out of print (often difficult to find, but worth checking your library or used book store)

Books Boys Like

Sam and the Firefly by P. D. Eastman

  • Crazy Quilt, Paul Brown, 1934   O (out of print)
  • Piper’s Pony, Paul Brown, 1935  O
  • Three Rings, Paul Brown, 1938   O
  • Mick and Mac, Paul Brown, 1937  O (Circus animals interact with children on a farm.  Wonderful.)

  • The Adventures of Tintin in Red Rackham’s Treasure (1934) and other graphic novels in this series by Herge´ (a graphic novel is a story told in comic book format). These international stories of intrigue are quite entertaining. You might find your boys making a dictionary of Captain Haddock insults! These books are available in many languages, making them an excellent supplement to a foreign language program.

    • Homer Price, Robert McCloskey, 1943 (“The Doughnut Machine” and other wonderful stories have made this a favorite.)
    • The Enormous Egg, Butterworth, 1956
    • Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Atwater, 1938
    • Farmer Boy, Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1933
    • Charlotte‘s Web,  E. B. White, 1952
    • Stuart Little,  E. B. White, 1945
    • The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White
    • My Side of the Mountain, Jean George, 1959
    • The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett, 1911 (This is an amazing book.)
  • James and the Giant Peach, and others by Roald Dahl

  • The Dragon of Cripple Creek, Troy Howell, 2011 
  • The Green Ember, S. D. Smith (series) 2014
      • Down East, Lewis Pendleton, 1937  O (Very tall tales of sailing adventures.  Features Captain Isaac Drinkwater.)
      •  Little Britches, Ralph Moody, 1950
      • Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson, 1881, 1911 (The classic tale of pirate treasure.  The N.C. Wyeth plates in the Scribner’s edition are wonderful.)
      • Captains Courageous, Rudyard Kipling, 1897

  • Robin Hood, Paul Creswick, (date not listed), Scribners
  • The Chestry Oak, Kate Seredy, 1961
  • The Good Master, Kate Seredy, 1935
  •  The Diamond in the Window, Jane Langton, 1962
  • The Fledgling, Jane Langton, 1980
  • The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame, 1908

Foundlings, Paladins, and Loresmen by Matthew Christian Harding

    • The Peleg Chronicles (Foundlings, Paladins, and Loresmen) by Matthew Christian Harding. This relatively recent trilogy is set in the time before the Tower of Babel and features no magic. Harding is a master of the cliffhanger ending, so start these when you have time to read them all the way through!
    • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and others by Jules Verne, 1869, translated and annotated by Miller and Walter,  Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland, 1993. (This newest translation is particularly good.  Have a globe handy for tracing the route of the Nautilus.)
    • Tales from Shakespeare, Charles and Mary Lamb, 1807 (Also available in hardbound through used bookstores. This summarizes the Shakespeare plays in simpler language. Try reading one of the comedies here, then the full Shakespeare play.)
    • The Giver, Lois Lowry

The Hobbit: There and Back Again

  • The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, Tolkien, 1966.
  • Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe, 1719 (This appeals to children on one level, and to adults on another. A somewhat difficult read.)
  • Two Little Savages, Earnest Thompson Seton, 1903. Our boys wore this book out — not just by constant re-reading, but also by taking it outside for instruction in how to make and do all sorts of real-guy things. The linked edition is complete and includes all the illustrations.
  • Mysterious Island, Jules Verne, 1875, 1918, Scribner (“Can-do” castaways reinvent civilization. Captain Nemo makes a surprise appearance. Challenging read.)
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
  • Swallows & Amazons, Ransome, 1931 (This requires or will develop an extensive nautical vocabulary. Great for sailing enthusiasts.)
  • Tarzan books (the original series), Edgar Rice Burroughs, 1912-1965
  • The Thirty-Nine Steps, John Buchan, 1915 (John Buchan wrote other great stories as well. Our son enjoyed these books once he was able to deal with the old-fashioned style and vocabulary. The pace is very different from a modern book — not necessarily a bad thing!)
  • Ivanhoe and others by Sir Walter Scott

My Side of the Mountain Trilogy (My Side of the Mountain / On the Far Side of the Mountain / Frightful's Mountain) by Jean Craighead George

Thanks to Malcolm and Peg Shealy for sharing a significant portion of the “books boys like” list with us. Of course, no reading list is ever complete, so we continue to add to it as we re-read old favorites or discover new books that boys are sure to like. If you or your sons have a favorite book you think we should add, please let us know. 

As always, any Amazon links are affiliate links.